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Local/Regional News

Last Call For Medicaid Waiver Comments

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Greg Stotelmyer
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The window is closing for Kentuckians wishing to add their two cents on Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed changes to the state’s Medicaid expansion.

Officials had set a deadline of July 22 to submit comments on the proposed Medicaid waiver but extended it to this Sunday, August 14th to accommodate a rush of submissions just after the cut-off.

The changes – which include modest monthly premiums, some work requirements, and scaled back dental and vision care – have garnered praise from fiscally-minded Republicans but run into vocal opposition from some citizens and health advocates. In June waiver architect and UK healthcare official Mark Birdwhistle reassured critics the rollout would be accompanied by a campaign to update the public on how to maintain their benefits.

"As part of the rollout, we will have a communication plan, so that everyone has plenty of time to prepare for the changes and that there are sufficient opportunities for people to ask questions," he said.

After the comment period ends, the state will submit a revised waiver proposal to the federal government for their review. While the Bevin administration appears confident a deal can be struck with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, skeptics - including Democratic congressman John Yarmuth - have suggested "poison pills" in waiver show it's designed to fail.

"I think he just wants to blame the Obama Administration for forcing him to roll back the Medicaid expansion,” Yarmuth told cn|2 Pure Politics. “I think that is his ultimate goal. That’s what he said he would do on the campaign. And this gives him a way to do it with less political push back."

Nearly a third of Kentuckians are enrolled in Medicaid, in part thanks to the expansion ordered by former Governor Steve Beshear under the Affordable Care Act.  Bevin argues the increase in the Medicaid population is financially unsustainable in its current form.

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